So, a couple of days ago I reflected with you on how my resolutions for 2011 went. Now, it’s time to set some new goals and challenges for 2012. Before I do, I should probably make you aware of my new circumstances; which will add some understanding to the resolutions.
At the end of August this year, I commenced as Head of Spiritual Life at a school on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Known as one of Australia’s premier coastal tourist spots with some of the country’s most amazing beaches and beautiful mountainous hinterland areas (don’t hate me!) the Gold Coast also has its fair share of issues: a reputation for high crime rate; a very plastic and fake environment; and a diverse socio-economic make up from the ridiculously wealthy to the significantly poor to name but three.
The school I work in is an interesting place. An unashamedly Christian school that has embraced a culture that is intentionally (and truly) multi-denominational with a full Christian staff and a student body that is about 40% Christian, 60% not Christian, Emmanuel College seeks to engage students with a Christianity that embraces faith with a link to Scripture, reason and tradition and moves them to action in a vibrant and very real and life changing way.
It is in this environment that I have executive responsibility for anything that touches Christian faith – which in our school is basically everything! Which means I have a grave responsibility to represent a way of life and faith that can be lived a way that truly embraces what Jesus says and permeates every avenue of our lives. Kind of what St. Benedict was all about.
So it is in this new city and in this place of work that I engage as a Christian who seeks to follow the path of Jesus illuminated by light from the Rule of St. Benedict. And with that in mind, I resolve to place the following as goals to attain in The Modern Monk Project in 2012…
1. I will be starting the year, from January 1, with 3 days of Silence and Fasting.
Yes, what began as what I thought would be a nice way to start the year (and it was) has become something I intend to do every year. I can’t imagine starting a year any other way…
As it was in 2011, the silence shall include technology. Thankfully, I am a bit more clued up on the use of some technology that will allow my daily Twitter and Facebook posts reflecting on the readings for the day to continue during that three day period – and how you can have this post appear on my website on January 1!
2. I will continue to develop my engagement with the church calendar and holy days throughout the year; and celebrate them with meaning.
Beyond just realizing “Wow, today is Holy Innocents – what the Dickens is that?!” I will be seeking to embrace the days and look for ways to engage in their meaning by intentionally celebrating them either alone, or with those around me (see Resolution 6). This will include getting to know the Saints better (modern and traditional).
3. To observe Lent with a limited fast in the first 26 days; and a complete fast in the last 14 days.
40 Days is probably a bit of a stretch. I might just be saying that, or I might actually believe – to be honest I can’t tell! But wisdom tells me that moderation is the key to success. So, if I do a traditional “Monks Fast” (a light meal at the start and the end of the day, staying away from certain foods) for the first two-thirds of Lent, and fully fasting the last third, I think I can achieve that and calm the nerves of the well-meaning people around me who have shown some concern…(!)
4. To seek simplicity in my life by scaling back.
This is kind of like the resolution from last year regarding my environment. What I want to do here is make myself unencumbered from the “stuff” that clutters my life. And in doing so, I am sure I will bless others and find contentment with what I have. I also intend the simplicity to engage my work by keeping me focused on the important stuff and not the peripherals which will only cause me to lose focus on what is needed.
5. To develop my links to Benedictine Spirituality.
In late 2011, I made contact with the Anglican Benedictine community at Camperdown in Victoria – the same place I hoped to visit in 2011. This year, I intend to do at least one stretch of time with the Monks and to speak to the Abbott and Director of Oblates regarding a formal connection to the community. I hope in future this will become two visits.
I also intend to spend the first part of 2012 in Lectio Divina on the Rule, and will be reflecting on it in regards to both my work and my home (see below).
6. To seek ways to bring the Rule into my household and my place of work.
This year, I’ve come to realise that God has placed me in a position where at work I can develop a rule of life that allows me to live this on campus; and share it with the staff and student community too. Further to my comment in Resolution 5, I am hoping to seek the wisdom of the rule as a way of life for the school community in which I spend my day. I also realise that my own household is a community in which the Rule has a place, and I hope to be able to share its wisdom with my wife and children as we live together this year.
7. To share what I am learning through the blog and be committed to this work as a ministry.
Simple enough – I need to do what I said last year: A regular update, an essay from time to time, reviews and our very own retreats and resources to help people engage as a modern monastic. I am also blessed to be joined by my long term friend and fellow Modern Monastic, Br Mark B, who will also share on the blog. Mark lives in Canberra with his wife, Katie, who is a musician and teacher; and their 3 children. Mark has one of the most amazing New Testament minds I know – and his reflections on the Scriptures as we move through the year will certainly enhance what The Modern Monk Project is about.
So there you have it. Let’s see how we go this year. What resolutions do you have in place for 2012? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like someone to pray with you throughout the year.
Cheers and Peace for a blessed and radical 2012 for you and your family,
Br Mark G
~aka The Modern Monk.